Things hot up as America's Cup begins

‘Vibrant Valencia has turned into violent Valencia and today it will become vicious Valencia’, reports Stuart Alexander, sailing correspondent for the Independent, as knockout trials for the 11 challengers for the America’s Cup begin this week.

‘Gangs of street robbers have invaded the city and are making life a misery for foreigners as security is concentrated on the bases around the newly developed Port America’s Cup. The shine on what should be a glittering event is being tarnished.

‘Inside those bases, finishing touches have been made to the yachts which today begin two concentrated series of one-on-one matches for the Louis Vuitton Cup. The battle to make the semi-final cut in three weeks’ time will be unrelenting. Only the winner has the right to line up against the Swiss defender, Alinghi.

‘There are squabbles and wind-ups around the dock. A Maori flag has been flying over the Alinghi compound opposite Team New Zea-land, stirring memories of how they were treated by extremists in 2003.

‘The America’s Cup has always been a cut-throat game and this 32nd defence seems unlikely to break that mould. There are, however, major changes. What claims, at 156 years and counting, to be sport’s oldest trophy is being presented in a new, more populist and commercial guise.’ For full article click here 

The ‘Auld Mug’s’ new face was revealed yesterday, as the first day of fleet racing was cancelled due to lack of wind, and spectators’ attention turned to who had the best-looking 18th man. The runaway winner, of that competition at least, was American syndicate BMW Oracle, whose crew were smiling as the boat left the docks with German supermodel Tatjana Patitz on board as their lucky charm.